Richard Moore’s Christopher Lee and David Carradine starrer, Circle Of Iron (1978), is now subject to a revival from former Valiant Entertainment CEO Jason Kothari. The Hong Kong-born entrepreneur has acquired the rights to the IP’s original incarnation, The Silent Flute, from Circle Of Iron producers Paul Maslansky (Police Academy) and Sasha Maslansky, and Kurt Fehtke and Arlene Howard, and will develop a new special limited series with John Fusco (Marco Polo, The Highwaymen) penning the script.
This is an exciting development for fans, especially those who were let down by the recent cancellation of Warrior on Cinemax. Kothari’s The Silent Flute will be “set in a dystopian future after mankind has suffered from pandemics, fires and civil wars, where all weapons and combat arts are banned. It follows a raw fighter who overcomes grave obstacles and loss to reach enlightenment and become the best fighter in the world.” Fusco is also exec producing alongside credited exec producers Maslansky & Maslansky, Fehtke and Howard.
Before his untimely death in 1973 and prior to the script’s retooling as Circle Of Iron from AVCO Embassy Pictures, late actor, filmmaker and martial arts legend Bruce Lee undertook the script for five years, collaborating with two of his own students, Oscar-winning screenwriter Stirling Silliphant (Perry Mason, Alfred Hitchcock Presents) and Oscar-winning actor James Coburn (Pat Garrett & Billy The Kid, In Like Flint). Kothari’s efforts mark the latest move on the project since Paul made headlines touting a film remake back in 2010.
As noted in the official press announcement, “The Silent Flute” script “encapsulated Lee’s vision for the true essence of martial arts and the meaning of life. It was his greatest and boldest creative passion project that remained unfinished since his unfortunate passing in 1973…”. The reins are now handed over to Kothari, who exec produced Vin Diesel starrer, Bloodshot – shortlisted for the 2021 Oscar for Best Visual Effects, serves on the Board for Balaji Telefilms – one of the largest film and television producers in India, and began his career in film firstly as a production assistant on the film Jackie Chan: My Stunts (1999).
“It is both a privilege and responsibility to realize Bruce Lee’s greatest passion project, The Silent Flute. Despite it having been untouched for half a century, the story conveys groundbreaking themes for today, and my ambition is to do justice to the global icon’s powerful and inspiring cinematic vision. Having closely studied his life and career, I am committed to bringing together the best talent in the world to make The Silent Flute for millions of Lee’s fans and honor him,” Kothari said.
“As a lifelong martial artist and practitioner of Bruce Lee’s Jeet Kune Do, the chance to help bring his personal opus to life is an honor and privilege.” said Fusco, who himself is a 50-year martial arts practitioner who holds multiple black belt ranks in three different Asian martial arts and has studied Jeet Kune Do under several of Bruce Lee’s former students. “What Bruce wrote, along with Sterling Silliphant and my late friend James Coburn, was ahead of its time and transcends action drama in profound and provocative ways. What we hope to do is open up the canvas of his story world and honor his vision in the exciting way that epic long-form narrative can do today,”
Matthew Polly, Bruce Lee historian and bestselling author of Bruce Lee: A Life, a definitive biography of the legend, stated, “The Silent Flute was Bruce Lee’s passion project. When he was a struggling actor in late 1960s Hollywood, Lee poured his heart and soul into the martial arts script, believing it was his best shot at becoming America’s first Asian superstar. Its failure to gain traction tortured him. Lee spent the rest of his short life trying to get it made, and there is little doubt if he had lived longer, he would have succeeded. Lee’s ardent fans have been waiting fifty years to see his original vision properly honored on screen.”
Jason Kothari is represented by lawyers Peter J Dekom and Alan Sacks of Frankfurt Kurnit.